Tuesday, 14 May 2013

What Goes Around...

We have a tree near our washing line (rotary, brought all the way from the UK. But then, you didn't really want to know that, did you?). We only put it in a couple of years ago (the tree, not the washing line, that's been there since 2005), when it was given to us in a pot and stood no more than eight inches tall. Now it's fifteen feet and rising and, at this time of the year laden with greenish-yellow pom-poms that the bees go mad for. Stand anywhere near it now and you can well imagine what it sounds like to be beside a road on the Isle on Man during the TT races. The drone is seriously loud and constant.

Of course, the garden in May is chock-full of blooms anyway, many of which the bees also make a bee-line for (yeah I know, bad pun), so, by and large, it's understandable that the local beekeepers, who move a clutch of perhaps 40 hives to a new location from time to time, tend often to install them on a patch of land not more than a stone's throw from our fence. We're fine with that. In fact, in high summer the plant pot tray out near the car-port, which we keep permanently full of water, primarily for the birds, is often the target of a constant parade of bees all after getting themselves re-hydrated before returning to their hives. They never cause us any bother and their sound is rather torpor-inducing whenever we get the chance to sit outside with a book during the early evening. Oh, add to the book a gin and tonic maybe, just to be on the safe side.

Whenever we're out walking the lanes among the olive groves we'll catch sight of a line of blue-coloured boxes, beehives, and it's cool with us. After all, the honey they make eventually ends up in the local shops and thus in a glass jar in our kitchen cupboard; so you might say that the pollen and nectar or whatever which is lifted by the little busy buzzers from our garden in one form eventually comes back, only this time in the form a lovely golden-coloured liquid which goes perfectly with a dollop of Greek yogurt for starters, or maybe dessert - whatever.

Just this morning, though, some of the magic sticky stuff came back in a totally unexpected and very welcome manner. The better half and I were out weeding industriously, there's no other way to weed, after all. Vehicles pass our place exceedingly rarely and most often we know who's coming well before they pass the garden wall and gate. Quite a few locals, even the ones we don't know to talk to, will wave at us if they see us setting about a bush with a pair of secateurs, or traipsing along with a wheelbarrow. The beekeepers have a couple of flatbed fixed chassis trucks which they use to move the hives around from place to place and they probably come by about twice a week. This very morning we arose from our low position down there with the weeds because the sound of a diesel truck signified that it was more than likely the bee-men coming up the valley on their way to check on their hives. Sometimes we see them sat in the cab with their signature bee-keeper's hat already in place, others not. Anyway, as they came up around the bend there indeed were the two trucks which we know and so we responded to their toot-toots with a vigorous wave and a smile.

That wasn't, however, the last we saw of them today. An hour or so later the sound of their engines could again be heard approaching from the lane behind the house. Pretty soon, as expected, they came into view at the far end of the orchard, both this time with a stack of hives on the flatbeds behind their cabs. One of them even told me once that they sometimes place empty hives around the countryside because some thieving lowlifes ("malakas" was the word they used if I remember correctly. There's a story attached to that word. remind me to tell you some time), anyway, because some thieving low-lifes have been known to risk life and limb to steal not only honey, but the bees as well!!

As the trucks passed the gates and drew level with us from the other side of the wall, they tooted once again and we waved as before, only this time the tone of the engines indicated that they were coming to a halt. The lane outside this part of the garden is quite a few feet lower than the level of the garden, so all I could see was the fact that the cab door was open. I thought that perhaps the bloke driving the front truck wanted to walk back and talk to the driver behind, so I returned to the business of some industrious weeding. It hadn't occurred to me that if he'd wanted to talk to the bloke behind he'd have used his mobile phone. Doh!

A moment passed and I heard a voice calling from below the wall. In a heavy Greek accent a man was calling out, "My Friend! My Friend!" By the tone it was evident that he was trying to attract the attention of either my wife or me and, since I was the nearer of the two of us, I walked to the edge of the garden above the wall whilst calling out, "I'm here!" On seeing me he immediately shot his hand through the open door into the truck's cab and brought it out holding this…

Extremely surprised, yet also immensely touched (a lot of people say that about me), I approached to within hand-shaking distance, whereupon he handed me the jar and said, "For you! Enjoy!"  whilst gesturing with his other hand that of course this included Y-Maria too. Before I'd even finished thanking him, he was back in the cab and both trucks were engaging gear before trundling off down the lane, eventually their sound receding into nothing, leaving us with a wonderful jar of locally produced Thyme honey. Well, it says "Thyme" on the label, but I prefer to believe that the bees that made it had also made good use of the blooms in our garden during the process.

After all, what goes around comes around.


  1. I love Greek Thyme Honey....I bought a huge jar home last year....but had to get it at Rhodes airport in Departures...if I had got one from the supermarket in Yota Beach....we would have been well over our weight limit...we stuggle every year as it is...but wow....the honey is something else.

    1. You're not wrong. I know we're biased, but we think it's the best we've ever tasted.